"America's Funniest Home Videos" Brings Laughter to the Smithsonian

April 7, 2009

"America's Funniest Home Videos" creator Vin Di Bona donated objects from his hit television show to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in a special ceremony. The "America's Funniest Home Videos" donation joins the museum's permanent entertainment collections and represents one of the first reality-genre shows on television.

Joined by host Tom Bergeron, Di Bona presented important artifacts from the beginning of the series, including the camcorder used to film the first winning video in November 1989, an annotated script, an audience voting machine and a presentation reel that prompted the ABC network to order the pilot episode. Di Bona also gave his personal script book, a framed ticket to the show's first taping and a press kit that included a September 1989 People magazine featuring the program's first advertisement announcing the show and requesting home videos. The first video, featuring a woman whose hair and head got caught in a dishwasher, was part of the donation. Her husband thought the scene was so amusing that he ran for a camera instead of helping her. These items join the museum's extensive collection of television memorabilia, including Kermit the Frog, Jerry Seinfeld's puffy shirt and the set from "M.A.S.H."

"'America's Funniest Home Videos' represents the humor, spirit and innovation of the American people as well as an important era of television history," said Brent D. Glass, museum director. "The innovative format of reality mixed with a voting-competition format predates some of today's most popular shows. We are pleased to add these materials to our collection."

On the air since 1989, "America's Funniest Home Videos" has broadcast more than 400 episodes featuring average Americans' homemade comedic clips. "I am proud that for two decades 'America's Funniest Home Videos' is the premiere family entertainment show in the country," said Di Bona. "I am honored that objects representing our contributions to American entertainment are now in the Smithsonian."

Each week, viewers vote on three amateur videos selected by the producers to see which will win a cash prize. First place receives $10,000 while second and third place get $3,000 and $2,000, respectively. The show can be seen in more than 70 countries and has generated more than 15 international versions. Its success led to the creation of a spin-off show, "America's Funniest People," in 1990. Previously hosted by comedian and actor Bob Saget, model Daisy Fuentes and stand-up comedian John Fugelsang, television personality Tom Bergeron took over in 2001 and added a segment called "Tom's Home Movies."

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. After a two-year renovation and a dramatic transformation, the museum shines new light on American history, both in Washington and online. To learn more about the museum, please visit https://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000, (202) 633-5285 (TTY).